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WARNING: Has Anyone Noticed There Are Few Butterflies Around?


TomJH
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And it's not just butterflies. Speaking from my own observations this summer in southern Ontario, not only are there few butterflies and bees (the latter getting a lot of news coverage, of course) but I think the same may well be true of all insects.

 

There are NO crickets chirping anymore. And I mean none. As recently as last year and certainly the summers before that I was hearing them. When I make a point of walking into tall dry grass there are NO grasshoppers trying to get out of my way. For years they would be flying away or bouncing off me. No longer. So far this summer (it's still early, of course), I haven't seen a single one.

 

I know a large walkway nearby where snails like to pass. Often they were getting crushed under people's feet, so I would pick some of them up and put them in the grass. There's been no need for me to go into snail rescue mode this year, so far, because I see no snails. Even that pain in the ****, the fly. So far this summer not a single one has got into my house. I wonder if it's because there are fewer of them, as well.

 

The bird population is bound to be directly impacted if insects continue to disappear. Perhaps it has been already.

 

Scientists, of course, are pointing to pesticides used by farmers as the culprit. In particular, many of them are pointing to neonicotinoids. They say that traces of this pesticide are even found on plants bought in greenhouses or stores, including, for example, tomato plants that people take home. Bees, attracted to these plants, are then being affected by them, just as much as they are by those crops in farmer fields that have the super killer pesticide on them. Bird carcasses are being found in these same fields.

 

Somewhere I believe that I read that neonicotinoids are banned in Europe, but, so far, certainly not in North America.

 

Here's a brief bit on them:

 

Is Your Garden Toxic?

The use of toxic chemicals is certainly not restricted to GE crop fields, and much can be done to protect critical pollinators from extinction by reevaluating the herbicides and pesticides used at home, at work, and around schools and public areas. For example, a pilot study published in 20136, 7 revealed that more than half of garden plants attractive to bees sold at Lowe’s are pre-treated with neurotoxic pesticides known as neonicotinoids, which can be lethal to bees.

These insecticides can weaken the bee’s immune system to the point of failure, permitting secondary infections from parasites, mites, viruses, fungi, and bacteria to take hold. This is one theory explaining the phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), where entire hives die or disappear without a trace, all at once.

Neonicotinoid-treated plants sold at garden centers across the US include tomatoes, squash, salvia, and various flowering plants that are attractive to pollinators. This is no small concern when you consider that bees are absolutely critical for pollinating food crops, and they can collect nectar from miles around their hive. In urban areas, public and private gardens can certainly support or harm bee populations, and without bees, we stand to lose one-third of all fruits, nuts, and vegetables… at least 130 different crop varieties in all. Needless to say, avoiding pesticides and herbicides like glyphosate is important for your own health, too. According to Lisa Archer, director of the Food and Technology

 

And here's a link that I strongly suggest you read:

 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/pesticides-linked-to-bee-deaths-must-be-banned-scientists-say-1.2685492

 

While the emphasis of the article is upon bees, I strongly believe that all insects may now be under attack. And if they die, that will, in turn, affect the entire planet, including man in his self complacency. Our ecosystem is in danger. We've heard it before from the scientists a few million times.

 

But I've never been quite so conscious of it as I have been this summer, as I started to notice that there are so very, very few butterflies around.

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Perhaps (and hopefully) this may be related to the constant movement in Earth's magnetic poles - leading up to the eventual "flipping" of poles. I would prefer this explanation to the more hopeless situation with insecticides.

 

Of course this would presume our insect friends are actually still around, just happily "bugging" us humans in other geographical areas - aligned with the magnetosphere.

 

I hope..

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And I thought I was the only who "relocates" snails. :)

 

Come to think of it, there are fewer butterflies, also bees and ladybugs.  I judge it by the number of insects flying into the pool (which I scoop out and try to save) and there have been very few so far this summer.  I haven't seen any dragonflies yet, either. In the very warm weather I still hear  choruses of cicadas, but maybe they're most resistant to the bad substance you mention.

 

This is disturbing.

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My last house had a wooden front porch with wood stairs and railings. I really believe my garden snails we're actually having fun - they were forever climbing the railing and "jumping" off the end of the hand rail.. suspended by a long stream of their goo.. endlessly twirling in mid-air until they alit once more upon the sidewalk.

 

Where I live now, the snails are much smaller - the teeny ones in shells you might see in an aquarium. When it rains they come out by the hundreds, climbing up fence posts, railings, pillars.. anything vertical that will get them off the ground.

 

I have noticed fewer butterflies, grasshoppers and crickets but ladybugs and mosquitoes are plentiful - and I do miss the sounds of cicadas.

 

All those birds on the phone lines are beginning to worry me, though.

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I would hesitate to ascribe it to a sole cause. 

 

My fiance is a writer and so I have been doing much research for him re: Fourteenth Century England.

 

I have read in a chronicle of 1277 that a greatly-lowered population of insects was a blessing because there was much less damage to crops. The writer attributed it as a sign of God's approval of the king and foretold even higher rates of prosperity in the nation. It was in truth a harbinger of climate change which saw an end to a long global warming period and the beginning of a cooling which caused such crop losses that famine was common on several continents throughout most of the Fourteenth Century.

 

The analysis which I read of that chronicle noted similar mentions of change in insect population and activity in records from circa 950 and circa 1850 which were also approx. change dates for other global climate cycles.

 

I believe that there are many pressures on such populations and that they adjust according to the threats but that they can not adjust quickly when there are multiple pressures simultaneously such as insecticides and climate change and possibly several other things of which we are not aware.

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Where I live in the middle of Georgia I've not noticed any difference this summer from summer's past.  I looked out my front door just yesterday and there was a butterfly flexing it's wings on the concrete step.  That's not an uncommon occurrence around here.  But it is rather woodsy around my home so I expect all manner of bugs and insects and butterflies to be out here. 

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My last house had a wooden front porch with wood stairs and railings. I really believe my garden snails we're actually having fun - they were forever climbing the railing and "jumping" off the end of the hand rail.. suspended by a long stream of their goo.. endlessly twirling in mid-air until they alit once more upon the sidewalk.

 

Where I live now, the snails are much smaller - the teeny ones in shells you might see in an aquarium. When it rains they come out by the hundreds, climbing up fence posts, railings, pillars.. anything vertical that will get them off the ground.

 

I have noticed fewer butterflies, grasshoppers and crickets but ladybugs and mosquitoes are plentiful - and I do miss the sounds of cicadas.

 

All those birds on the phone lines are beginning to worry me, though.

That was downright poetic, Kid Dabb. 

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I'm in London at the moment and have seen plenty of insects. The weather has been glorious -- sunny and 70-75, into the 50s at night. There was one rainy day last Saturday, and whilst walking through Putney Heath I did notice many slugs on the paved road that runs through the Heath.  I return to NY tomorrow night and will take notice of the insect population there. I hear it has been hot and muggy in NYC.

 

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I'm in London at the moment and have seen plenty of insects. The weather has been glorious -- sunny and 70-75, into the 50s at night. There was one rainy day last Saturday, and whilst walking through Putney Heath I did notice many slugs on the paved road that runs through the Heath.  I return to NY tomorrow night and will take notice of the insect population there. I hear it has been hot and muggy in NYC.

Swithin, it would be great if you could let us know how the insect population appears in NY. Since I'm in the Toronto area, not that far from you, I suspect you may be about the same as here. Since my original post I've also realized that I haven't heard any cicadas sounding at all, and we've already had a few humid hot days. It is still early in the summer, though. Hopefully I will hear them in the upcoming weeks. In the past, including just last summer, I heard their high pitched soundings even on days that weren't particularly hot.

 

The fact that we had such a long, brutal winter may also be playing a hand in the relative absence of insects, as well.

 

Here's a link on a two year European ban on some of the neonicotinoid pesticides, commencing last December:

 

http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/about/intheworks/ccd-european-ban.html

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On my phone & on my way to b-day party so can't comment right now but please read this blog post by Robert Krulwich:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2012/11/29/166156242/cornstalks-everywhere-but-nothing-else-not-even-a-bee

That is truly frightening. Here's yet another article on the problem our honey bees are facing:

 

Scientific American

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I didn't take it seriously when my mother started worrying about the lack of carpenter ants around our home. Usually in the spring we have all kinds of them scrounging for cat food, sending scouts into the house, and we're constantly escorting them outdoors (very politely). Sure enough, they seem to have disappeared. There are a few here and there, but for the most part they are gone. I doubt it was the fault of any pesticides the neighbors were using, or the thatcher ants in the back yard. Normally it would be a good thing for the ants to disperse from our living quarters, but it's a bit eerie, as we have never been able to get rid of them ourselves. I would have thought ants to be hardier than other insects.

 

Do you all still have your ants? (Assuming you had them in the first place.)

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Do you all still have your ants? (Assuming you had them in the first place.)

I had them last year. So far this year I don't (I'm glad about that, of course, but I wonder about the reason why).

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There are always plenty of these gals (and guys) flitting about here in Central Florida. They're just a few inches in length and love to lie about on the walkways and stones - soaking up heat 'til they fall in lust, shake off the dust and scurry their feet.. it's marriage or bust!

 

Brown Anole lizard 

2nticdd.jpg

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If insects continue to dwindle in the manner in which they appear to be doing this summer, it's only a matter of time before the bird population will be directly impacted.

 

It's very difficult for me to tell if that is starting to happen already where I live, in southern Ontario. I must say, though, that I have noticed an absence of birds in large flocks - the sparrows and, particularly, the starlings. You know how starlings like to suddenly descend upon a lawn or tree in a large dark flock, only to suddenly take flight again with what almost looks like a large cloud formation because there are so many of them. It's quite Hitchcockian.

 

I haven't seen any of that this summer. Mind you, the summer is still young.

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Swithin, it would be great if you could let us know how the insect population appears in NY. Since I'm in the Toronto area, not that far from you, I suspect you may be about the same as here. Since my original post I've also realized that I haven't heard any cicadas sounding at all, and we've already had a few humid hot days. It is still early in the summer, though. Hopefully I will hear them in the upcoming weeks. In the past, including just last summer, I heard their high pitched soundings even on days that weren't particularly hot.

 

The fact that we had such a long, brutal winter may also be playing a hand in the relative absence of insects, as well.

 

Here's a link on a two year European ban on some of the neonicotinoid pesticides, commencing last December:

 

http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/about/intheworks/ccd-european-ban.html

I'll report on the NYC insect population in the coming weeks.  I thought I saw an odd-looking bird flying outside my window in London last night. It was actually a bat, here to eat the insects! I wonder if the decreased insect population in Canada may be due in part to more birds migrating farther north, due to climate change.

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I'll report on the NYC insect population in the coming weeks.  I thought I saw an odd-looking bird flying outside my window in London last night. It was actually a bat, here to eat the insects! I wonder if the decreased insect population in Canada may be due in part to more birds migrating farther north, due to climate change.

Thanks, swithin. I've had a couple of incidents over the years of a bat getting into my home. Once they land somewhere and decide to hide, they are MURDER to find. I had to pull cabinets away from the wall (with as little as an inch space between the cabinet and the wall!), place a towell around the bat before freeing it outside.

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Here's a link to another article talking about the shocking decline of pollinators:

 

http://www.wired.com/2014/05/wild-bee-and-butterfly-declines/

 

While this article emphasizes pollinators, which have a direct impact upon man's food supply, I strongly suspect, based upon what I'm seeing locally (southern Ontario) that all insects may be under some kind of attack. Grasshoppers, crickets, snails, ladybugs, cicadas (based on the lack of soundings), I'm not seeing them at all this summer so far. I don't even see the same amount of pest bugs as before, flies and mosquitoes. While I won't shed many tears over the latter two, they are a part of the food chain for birds and bats, not to mention spiders.

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Here are reports from all over dating back to at least 2011 concerning this:

 

Warning, Foul Language ALERT! - Click Here

 

I have not researched this angle at all, but.. Many fruits and vegetables we buy at the supermarket are sterile in that their seeds will not reproduce. I have always wondered if this has any effect on the pollen of related plants which, in turn, directly affects our honey bees. Could pollen from plants bearing sterile fruit be interrupting some cycle of the honey bees?

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Just kiddin' I wouldn't really shoot a butterfly with my BB gun. I don't

mind butterflies, bees, or ants, but I do draw the line at snails. Even if

one puts aside those trails of slime, and that's a big if, I find them quite

disgusting. Fortunately, I haven't seen a snail around in ages and that's

A okay. In general I prefer our little furry friends, squirrels and rabbits,

to  insects. :)

I suspected as much.   :)   Yes, the furry ones are more appealing (speaking of which, a squirrel outside wanting his peanuts is trying to get my attention) though I'm intrigued by the workings of the insect world.  

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But of course, if the insect populations, especially the pollinators, really are decreasing, then it won't be too long before that will affect the "cute little furry" creatures as well. It's all connected, as we all know.

 

Tom:

First, I was happy to see, in your original post, that you are a fellow CBC consumer (listener? watcher?) It was funny, seeing old Peter M., on these boards, even if it was through a link.

 

Second: I avoided reading or posting on this thread when I first saw it, not out of a lack of interest, but because I become profoundly upset at the thought that we are routinely, stupidly, blindly, destroying something we need to live, something much more important than frigging corn, which we consume far too much  of anyway, in the way of "fructose", which is added to just about any processed food these days.

 

What I can never understand when it comes to perceived environmental threats such as the indiscriminate and mindless broad-range dispersal of neonicotinoids and/or other suspect pesticides is this: even if the evidence that they are causing the pollinating insects such as bees harm is inconclusive (and I don't think it is), why take a chance? It's just not worth it.

 

This is the kind of problem affecting our entire world today that I can hardly bear to think about, not only because of the implications concerning our (humans') future survival, but because I love these creatures for their own sake, and am deeply troubled at the thought that they are becoming endangered.

 

Third: Keep in mind that crickets and cicadas don't usually emerge, or hatch, or whatever it is they do, until later in the summer. I remember one or two summers ago, thinking the same thing as you - "Where are the crickets?"

But then I realized it was only July-relatively early July, at that. I'm no entomologist, but I'm pretty sure crickets and cicadas don't start singing their songs til later in the season. I always hear them in August - and a lovely sound it is, too.

In fact, the humming of insects (except horseflies and of course mosquitoes) is one of my favourite sounds. There is something so evocative about the sound of crickets chirping on a summer night. and of cicadas - when I was a kid I called them "heat bugs" - singing their strange mysterious cicada song on a dreamy hot summer day.

But as I said, these delights usually occur in late July and August. I believe, as you yourself mused, that it's "a bit early" for them.

 

This all reminds me of a line of poetry I read once that I've never forgotten, by American poet William Carlos Williams:

 

"In summer, the song sings itself."

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What I can never understand when it comes to the perceived environmental threats such as the indiscriminate and mindless broad-range dispersal of neonicotinoids and/or other suspect pesticides is this: even if the evidence that they are causing the pollinating insects such as bees harm is inconclusive (and I don't think it is), why take a chance?

 

Money.

 

Farms are Corporative businesses now and bugs eat into the profits. Share-holders don't often take a long-term view, they want their return on investment now.

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Squirrels are usually pretty skittish around humans, but every once in a while one will come

up to my sliding back door and put his little paws against the glass and peer in like he wants

to come into the house. If he ever came in, I'd probably have a time trying to get him out

again, but it's funny to see a squirrel do that.

If you want to make a friend, try leaving him(?) a Cheez-It cracker or two.

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This all reminds me of a line of poetry I read once that I've never forgotten, by American poet William Carlos Williams:

 

"In summer, the song sings itself."

 

The Honey Bee and the Butterfly 
 
Once upon a time 
there was a handsome honeybee, 
who fell in love with a butterfly 
he met in a tulip tree. 
 
He said “I love you madly 
and want to share your life. 
We can fly away together – 
will you be my wife?” 
 
She hung her head in sorrow – 
“No! No! No! cried she. 
For I am a Monarch’s daughter, 
And you’re a son of a bee!”
 
- Anonymous
 
It is common when in our kitchen to hear a tap and then a moment later a tap and then a moment later a tap again. It is because there is a squirrel feeder out of the window and a squirrel must lift the lid of the feeder to reach the corn and then they let the lid fall. It is great fun to watch them. I believe that it is a good thing that I do not speak squirrel for I am sure that they are using very bad words when two wish to be at the feeder at the same time. It is becoming great expense also because there are now more than six which each come several times each day to eat. 
 
Squir003.jpg
 
 
I have read of a woman who places cups filled with ice on her deck for the benefit of the squirrels. I believe that this squirrel has the proper idea for a nap on a hot day:
 
Squir498.jpg
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